If you’re wondering what happened to all of the community volunteer activities people used to do – not to mention the popularity of participating in group social or recreational activities like softball or bowling leagues … you might look at the time Americans are spending online as one possible explanation.
The evidence comes in the form of research the Interactive Advertising Bureau did when they contracted with GfK Research to conduct an extensive online survey as part of a larger behavioral analysis of American adults.
Fielded in late 2013 with participation from ~5,000 adults between the ages of 18 and 65, the IAB/GfK survey revealed that Americans are spending an average of 2.5 hours of every day online.
Add that on to the average ~5 hours per day spent watching TV – a figure that’s hardly budged in years – and it’s little wonder that the Jaycees, Shriners’ and other service organizations are finding it more difficult to recruit new members … or that “old faithful” group social and recreational activities are in danger of becoming less relevant.
The IAB/GfK survey also revealed which types of online activities are engaged in the most. The chart below, created by Statista from the IAB/GfK report’s data and published in The Wall Street Journal, gives us the lowdown:
I wasn’t surprised to discover that social networks chew up the most online minutes per day. Online video viewing and search time seem about as expected, too. And who doesn’t enjoy a nice game of Spider Solitaire or Internet Spades to wind down after a long day?
But at ~30 minutes per day, the e-mail average seems on the high side. People must really be struggling with managing personal inboxes stuffed with marketing e-mails. (But if work-related e-mails are part of the equation, the half-hour figure seems more expected.)
Comparing these results to similar research done in prior years, the most recent survey charts an increase in online video watching; it’s doubled over the past four years.
Other activities that are on the rise include online gaming, and listening to online radio.
Adding it all up, total time spent online is continuing its inexorable rise thanks to mobile connectivity and the “always-on” digital environment in which Americans now live.
Perhaps the way to stem reduced interest in group social activities and volunteerism lies in giving people free reign to “multitask” even as they participate in the local bowling league or Ruritan Club meetings …
What are your thoughts on the time people are spending online – and if it’s crowding out other forms of daily activities? Please share your thoughts with other readers here.